Lavanya Dawn’s fantastical contemporary paintings are the product of her lifetime evolution as an artist. As an imaginative and creative child, Lavanya began illustrating her vivid dreams with watercolors at the early age of five. The young artist moved on to pen and ink drawing as a teenager before finding her niche with acrylic and oil painting. Lavanya’s work has been evolving ever since, yet many of her earliest influences continue to shape her aesthetic.
Lavanya grew up in a creative Santa Fe household where she was fascinated by all things artistic, from the tattoos on her father’s arms to the covers of his 1970s vinyl collection. A mechanic and auto airbrush artist, Lavanya’s father had eccentric taste and filled their home with art, books and music. Psychedelic imagery from Santana’s Abraxas album cover or bizarre illustrations from Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are fueled young Lavanya’s already active imagination. Her visual fantasies flowed into painted fairy-tale landscapes, which eventually evolved into dark drawings of menacing creatures. “There’s this whole fantasy world that I lived in when I was younger,” she says. "When it comes to painting, the more of a grown-up I have to be, the harder it is to get into that subliminal state of creating."
Lavanya’s work now balances the dreamy and the dramatic with surreal yet enchanting imagery. Even though her style and subject matter matured with age, her self-taught process remains intuitive. Her artistic direction is dictated by subconscious emotions that ebb and flow as she creates each piece. “I may begin from a dark and intense place within me,” she says of her process, “but by the end the color palette can become bright or white washed.” Lavanya works with multiple layers and washes in an effort to avoid definitive compositions. Her ambiguous narratives are instead based on energy, mood and engrained experience. Emerging figures are usually androgynous yet maintain a distinct feminine energy as they intertwine with natural elements such as crescent moons, blooming flora and delicate fauna. Each symbol contributes to the overall mood of the piece, resulting in mystical visions that seek viewer engagement. “I really appreciate when someone can look at my work and make it personal to them,” she says. “These paintings are a part of me, there’s no denying that, but once they leave the studio they become someone else’s experience.”
Lavanya Dawn continues to live in Santa Fe where she has been exhibiting and selling her work for over twenty years in cafes, storefronts and professional galleries. She currently works out of her home where she lives with her fifteen-year-old son, who is also a budding artist.